Six Random Things…

Okey-doke. I’ve been tagged by my Close Personal Friend Jason Snell, with one of those things that people with blogs tag other people with, if they also have a blog.

I tend to ignore these RSS-vectored chain letters. Once you get a reputation as someone who gets tagged and then just does what he’s told…well, where does it end, I ask?

And some of these Tags are absurd. I had to go back and visit a LiveJournal that I’d unsubbed from, just to make sure I wasn’t misremembering, but yes indeed: the guy had received, and executed, a 22-item Tag.

So don’t think that just because I did this tag, I’m going to do any more of them. I’m doing it this time because it came from My Close Personal Friend Jason Snell. If Jason has ever been wrong about anything, then I haven’t been a witness to it. Which means he’s smart enough to use a whole bag of quicklime when he buries the bodies…yet another reason to just do what he says.

The Rules:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you. Done.
  2. Post the rules. I haven’t finished that one yet, but I expect to have done so shortly.
  3. Write six random things about yourself. I haven’t even started on this. I guess I’ve just been screwing around or something. But I’ll get to it, I swear.
  4. Tag six other people at the end of your post and then tag to them. Boy…again, I’ve made absolutely no progress on this one. I really need to get on the stick.
  5. Inform each of the people you’ve tagged know that you’ve tagged them, and leave a comment on their blog. Another one that I haven’t even started. But at this point I have to wonder if this Tag isn’t all just some scam to increase someone’s Google page ranking. More importantly, I have to wonder if there isn’t some way I can get myself on the top of the pyramid.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up. Crap. I need to organize my time more effectively. Maybe get one of those Filofaxes or something.


Thing One. I have received angry emails from Michael Moore.

The short version of this story is that shortly after “Bowling For Columbine” was released, I spent a couple of months investigating the facts he presented in the movie. As in, I saw the movie several times, made copious notes, and used conventional journalistic techniques (interviews, obtaining primary source material, getting opinions from unbiased experts, etc.) to verify the statements Moore had made in the film.

And I wasn’t even bothering with points that are debatable, like “Are the countries that ban private gun ownership safer and less violent than the US?” I focused on cut-and-dried stuff like “Does the plaque at the base of the Stratofortress on display at the Air Force Academy say what Moore says it does?”

(In case you’re curious: No. No, it does not.)

I discovered that the film was rubbish practically from start to finish, but that’s another story. Suffice to say that Moore got very upset about a certain conclusion I’d made (which was quoted by a film critic). Despite what he claimed in the movie, the Columbine shooters hadn’t gone to bowling class on the morning of the massacre. They cut.

He sent me a curse-filled email. I replied quite kindly, I thought. I explained how I had reached my conclusion and told him that I was unable to uncover any evidence supporting his claim. Moore then said, in so many words, “Who are you going to believe? A team of experienced law-enforcement professionals who spent months investigating the crime and who sent you copied of physical evidence that backed up their findings? Or the teenage girls whom I interviewed a long time after the shootings, who probably would have told me that they were co-conspirators in the JFK assassination if they thought it meant their footage would make it into my movie?”

He promised to send me copies of his own physical evidence. I eagerly gave him my PO box, but I haven’t heard back from him yet. I’ll be sure to keep y’all posted on that.

Thing Two. I have two professional comic book writing credits.

Kinda-sorta. I’m given a proper title-page credit in an issue of “Ren & Stimpy Comics and Stories” for a joke I provided. If you were a fan of this Marvel comic and remember thinking “That joke has a certain Andy Ihnatko flair to it” at some point, you’re very perceptive. Assuming that it was during the scene where they’re on a car trip and stop at a roadside franchise for a rancid confection called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Yogurt.”

I was also all signed up to co-write Acclaim Comics’ officially-licensed Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic.

I’d sent a few proposals to a certain editor at Marvel that he had muchly liked, but my ideas Regretfully¬† Weren’t Right For Marvel At The Present Time. When this editor moved to Acclaim, and they got the license for MST3K…bingo, he sent me an email. While I was in San Francisco for Macworld Expo, in fact.

Alas, the project was canceled before the contracts had even arrived. As I recall, this was about at the time of the Great Comics Implosion, and the MST3K comic was just one casualty. I think by the end, Acclaim kept just two of their most-successful existing titles. They tried to make a go of just licensing their properties to other media.

I’d still love to write comics. But breaking in is even tougher today than it was in the Nineties. You gotta earn cred by self-publishing, or by being a writer in some other medium (like novels, TV, or movies). These days, it’s the editors approaching the writers and not the other way around.

Thing Three: Mac OS X 10.5 is hardwired to pronounce my last name correctly.

Midway through Leopard’s development process, I got one of those emails that elevates your buoyancy for three whole days. It was from a senior member of Apple’s speech team. “We want to make sure that Text-To-Speech can handle your name properly,” he said. “Could you provide is with a recording of the correct pronunciation?”

I plugged in my good microphone, said my name three or four times into a Quicktime Pro recording, and emailed the soundfile back to him. I soon got a reply with a sample of the alpha version of Alex saying my name in a sentence, which I stamped with my official okey-dokey.

So whenever someone emails me to ask “How is your name pronounced?” I reply “Just go into TextEdit, type my name, and then select ‘Start Speaking’ from the ‘Speech…’ submenu.”

The funny thing? I’ve sort of screwed over all of the other Ihnatkos. My dad had the name before I did…and that’s not how he pronounces it. He uses a harder “a”.

But who are you going to believe? My father and all of my ancestors, or millions of Macs?

Thing Four: Every member of Monty Python has autographed my college Calculus textbook.

Yes, even Graham Chapman. If you want to duplicate my feat, Graham is going to be the tough one. I won’t lie to you.

Thing Five: I keep a £2 coin in my jacket pocket at all times.

But why?

It’s not a good-luck piece. Not really.

For a while there I was travelling to London every year. There’s this Coke machine at Heathrow just after the passport stations at Customs & Immigration. I usually take the redeye. The plane lands at 6 AM local time. I’m tired and sore after six hours belted into that seat, and I still have to face what seems like nine hours wobbling and weaving through the rope maze to get my passport stamps.

But one thing gets you through that experience: the sight of that Coke machine, glowing benevolently. Like passing through the gates of Heaven, all of your mortal burdens and sorrows will be behind you as you dance towards that red machine, drop in a few coins, and extract a chilled half-liter delivery system for caffeine, sugar, caramel color, phosphoric acid, Merchandise X, and glorious, tickly bubbles.

I went through that on my first visit. I had answered all of the Customs man’s questions correctly verily launched myself at the Coke machine.

Yes, of course. I had just landed there an hour or so ago. I didn’t have any English money.

When my week was up and it was time to pack my things and head back to the airport, I remembered that slap in the face. So I dropped a couple of coins in my jacket pocket. And when I made my next trip some six months later…I liberated an icy-cold Coke from that same damned machine ten seconds after clearing Customs.

Flipped the machine the bird, too, as I recall. What the hell. They couldn’t un-stamp my passport, could they?

I repeated this wise strategy on every subsequent trip. It’s been a few years since my last visit but when it comes, my first Coke on British soil has already been paid for.

Thing Six: I have only drunk two cups of coffee in my entire life.

I just never acquired a taste for the stuff. I don’t think it tastes nasty, mind you. But the fact remains that I’ve only drunk coffee twice. Both times, I only drank it because I was outside in the freezing cold and it was the only warm beverage available.

And in both instances, the coffee was free. So I can also honestly say that I have never bought myself a cup of coffee in my life.

Okay, that’s six things.

I’m supposed to tag six people now. Buuuuuuuut…

…Well, I don’t want to risk tagging someone who doesn’t want to be tagged.

Tell you what. If you want to be tagged, say so in a reply. If you’re a Close Personal Friend, email me. I’ll choose six and append this post appropriately.

8 thoughts on “Six Random Things…

  1. Ross B

    LMAO at “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Yoghurt”. That had me chuckling for a good half minute.

    Did you ever publish your findings re Bowling For Columbine? As an avid anti-Moore “fan”, I would love to read them.

  2. Jonathan Dodds

    Tag me. It will be a reason for me to update my poor neglected blog.

    My wife just looked over my shoulder and asked what I was doing.

    “I’m posting a comment on Andy Ihnatko’s Celestial Waste of Bandwidth” I said.

    “That’s nice, dear.”

  3. Mark

    I had to try out the speech to text thing on your name. Wanting to make sure I heard correctly, I copy and pasted your name a dozen times before telling my Mac to speak. Maybe I’m easily amused, but it tickled me to hear Ihnatko repeated several times, the pitch dropping with every repeat of the name, until the final Ihnatko at the end. Try it!

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